Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, but I wish I did.

This is something I worked on for a couple nights when I had some stomach issues and couldn't sleep. I never expected it to be this long and...well...long.

Couples: Sasuke/Sakura, slight Naruto/Hinata. Don't like? Don't read. If you can't handle this long of a story, press the back button. I don't want to hear how long it was because I know and I wrote it.

BoldNarrating. Italicthoughts. Normalnormal. Alternates between 1st and 3rd person.

I'd like you to review though...it'd make me happy. Take your time and enjoy.

:Control:

Fragile, infinitesimal moments in time

Litter my conscious and other waking moments

of you.

I dare not weep

When liquid onyx shatters your innocence

like a ballpoint hammer hitting the most perfect

sensitive spot

in your heart.

The pieces shatter like the most beautiful, exquisite ornate mirror and fall-

fall into that dark abyss of nothing I have left for you

When life and I have taken a toll on your mind.

Surely.

I am so very broken.

Like those taunting autumn leaves

that fall.

Tiny children are delighted by the presence.

Scuffling, shoving

to catch that first one.

But in that process it is reduced to nothing but dust

by uncareful, unworthy, calloused and rough human hands.

Where are those kid gloves that people have warned me about?

I am utterly torn into pieces by all that exists; every memory is pain, every smile you throw at me, no matter how innocent, reduces me to react by human instinct, driven by a lifetime of hate and revenge.

But now the curtain closes

on sadness, revenge, and utter loathing for company and human presences,

Instead it is an intermission, a turning point

Where I must choose my next move

Deter from that carefully written script and break out of normality

Just this once.

I will never have the chance again, mind you, so bear with me as I subject myself to pain and humiliation like you have never known.

If things come out wrong, have the patience to forgive me and the heart to take my callous words with a grain of salt.

It is only because I care for you.

Yet I am the one who has hurt you the most.

It always seems to happen that way, does it not?

I am done.


Done, I am. Gone, flown away, is the time where nothing matters to me anymore but that sultry, sweet taste of revenge that I have pined for so long it has become second instinct to the fact that I have to breath. Hampering, at the very least, that entire idea of having an involuntary movement, that tends to give you away at the most crucial point in time, when your life is on the line and you are facing the unmoveable wall that is your darkest fear.

You think it is not as trying on the psyche as I have made it out to be. Then let us imagine that you, for a second, have fallen into my world.

I wake up every morning; I have always loathed the bright sunlight streaking across my shadowed face and greeting me so cheerfully; potentially, it makes every day a bad day, no matter what happens after that. Instantaneously, rabid thoughts of revenge, the incidents of the last night, and that goddamned face, divine enough to nearly pull me back to the realms of sleep once more and experience much more than simply looking, surface. I wrestle with the perverted connotations that plague my mind, more often that not, at the worst possible time, effectively deterring attention away from...more important things.

God damn my oh-so typical Sensei and his prolonged training sessions, through the weather as I was losing strength; I would slip to my knees, and he would pound the essentials and those simple lessons into my skull so many times I would learn it in my sleep. Perhaps it was a good thing, when I now reflect and am confident that I know everything he taught me. On the other hand, there is no question that when he was in the mood, he slipped his little 'life lessons' in those conversations as easily as a greased pirogi sliding around in the pan. And now, since I vowed to listen better, and he expected nothing less, I am now learning both ways of the world, and it is impossible to simply block it all out.

Or maybe it is simply the fact that I am nearing 17; let me tell you, I have never found it so hard to concentrate on anything until recently. Recently for me has been ever since I killed Itachi, which, in essence, was only a few months ago. But time tends to do strange things, and now my life has been stretched over two time periods, two universes, consisting of my life leading up to his death, and now the time without. The few months have been stretched into years.

Anyway, now that I have a bit more free time on my hands, my various acquaintances have been searching for my company, though I could not understand for the life of me why. Who could forget the blonde, obnoxious little Hakoge wannabe that was part of Team 7 until I left? Although they never did break up...they simply waited. Everyone waited. And they really should not have, because when I did come back, it was quite unnerving to be immediately greeted by people who I distinctly remember fighting, and winning. I wonder if they all know what has happened; I'm not exactly unknown, and someone was sure to have picked up his body by now...

There I go, musing once again on things that should not concern me now.

Quite a few times I have been invited to go places; to eat, to talk, and I simply turn them all down. I really do not deserve the kindness or the time of day by the people I left, but they insist anyway, for only one reason. Pity.

And I, Sasuke Uchiha, avenger of my clan, do not accept pity from anyone.

And simply, my day comes to naught. Without a purpose, I do not feel the need to see other people anymore.

Of course, the days I have been biding and brooding in my room, that is not really mine but I use it anyway, I have been trying to keep morals and thoughts straight, as I always have; it is not working anymore. A pan of scrambled eggs, I am, and if you add some salt and pepper, I will be fit for chewing back up and spitting out once you take a bite. Life is taking an unexpected turn for me, and I do not know what to do or how to stop it because, frankly, I am not completely sure for myself what is wrong with me.

Jumping headfirst into the unknown

I shall.

The consequences of being headstrong are dire and call for pity-

precisely what I do not want.

Actions are my own

And green is the sea of emotion I sail on

with the slight sea-sickness that people call love.

Psh. Love.

To distract me from thinking about that subject, for God knows how many other emotions I will bring up, I am going to walk, which has nearly always helped me think.

The way of fate

And the master of cliches

Will most certainly deliver

As their name entitles;

On that walk.


Cherry blossoms.

The softest pink upon a tiny serving pillow

floating down from heaven

And gracing my unworthy presence with peace and pure ecstasy.

You are that. You are a blossom.

So gentle, yet with a mystery about you

that I want to solve.

I want to pull you apart and find out

what you are inside.

Darkness...

Luckily, on the streets, I have avoided most human interaction; my collar turned up, a look set on my face of having those emotional walls up again, and I certainly look quite forbidding and hardly to be crossed. After a few weeks of my being around like a haunting, hovering ghost of the village, many have given up trying to even speak to me, but I hear the whispers and they are still glad that I am back. They talk around me, as they always have, so I am isolated even more than my mind allows, and the worst aspect, they act as though I am not everywhere, listening to the words they speak about me. Those ones that heard my reputation and stories from different villages come to seek my strength.

God, if I had not been trying to control my otherwise rash temper, I would have told each and every one of them, personally, to gladly do something unnatural to themselves. I cannot stand the ignorance of these people.

Although the sun is far from setting, the forest holds an ominous aura and effectively blocks out light from those training, the tiny creatures that have more purpose and reason than I, so that the pines are the only trees that tower over society. It is somehow comforting, and in that dense wood I can think again, which is all I seem to do anymore, and hide from the truth, which I have done for, I believe years now. How long have I been assigned to Team 7? I believe it has been 5 years.

Oh my god...5 years...

As I near the edge of that forest of utter blankness, a noise, so infinitesimal that I was sure I had imagined it, a sort of snuffling and shuffling, an oh-so-familiar noise that I had come to love and hate over the past five years, for her presence did not necessarily mean anything good.

When you comply to the pull of attraction

the tugging on your cold heart

Let her in-

Let her in-

Or be the subject and object of her heart's desires and demise.

I did not have to turn around to find out who was watching me stare into the wood. Her innocent gaze was plastered over my face, for I had seen it so many times it was somewhat of a mask and I knew her well enough, I knew when she would use it. It was slightly defensive and comforting; she knew better than anyone that I tended to lash out, and her calm front, sadly, still annoyed me, for I could tell she had so much to say that I would not give the time of day to listen to.I never did.

"Planning to walk?" was all she asked, so innocently, nonchalantly, no emotion behind those words, and I must say it was shocking and thoroughly knocked me for a loop. There was no hidden needy-want of Sasuke-kun's attention in her statement, and she sounded very mature, very casual, as if all she really wanted was the pleasure of a short walk through the darkness. The amazing thing was, I believed her, I believed her intentions, even if mine were unclear to her and myself.

So with a quiet "Hn," which was about as much as I'd been using my vocal cords for these past weeks, I complied to her offer, folding my arms and waiting for her to walk up next to me and look up at me with her giant jade eyes and try to look through me as I do to her, then coo incessantly about how different I looked, which I completely expected. It has been a while, and besides, that was all Ino did when she caught a glimpse of me as I attempted to prowl down the street, hopefully unnoticed to my fangirl posse.

And then I realized I had not seen Sakura within that group. She was still keeping me waiting, and being the impatient man I was, I huffed insufferably, as if I were a mustached bank manager watching the progress of my tellers. And still she kept me waiting.

Annoyed, I made another noise of impatience; I sounded as cold as Sakura did when she replied, "Is there a reason you are huffing?"

Making a face as if I had swallowed a lemon whole with my eyes wide open, I threw my arms out in exasperation, speaking with actions louder than words. That was rude.

"Sorry if I was rude," she answered to my thoughts, and finally complied to walk up next to me; she did not look at me, but instead stared straight ahead into the woods as if she were thinking. "But considering you are the one who has returned, and you are the one who planned this walk, it would be dear if you waited for me." She turned to me with those sparkling jade eyes and tilted her head; my eyes widened at the sight of her beautiful face and I actually stumbled backward, horrified.

The memories tumbled over each other like clothes in a washing machine; twisted within another and overlapping, making it impossible to pull them apart, wring them out and dry.

Jumbled words-

Screams-

Empty promises I would never, ever keep-

The promises

the words that never meant anything.

Forever is a galling lie

And memories have consumed us both

Lies.

I have made you this

And left you this way.

"My...god..."

"Oh, it happened a few days after you left," Sakura said airily, an exquisite and genuine smile gracing her gorgeous, vibrant face; I watched as the corners of her mouth turned up, in turn scrunching the purple scar into microscopic, rough ridges. Not a fading scar; it was all he could look at as he tried, in vain, to register the horror...but who had done it...? From underneath her bubble-gum pink bangs, which she had left out of her ponytail, it began, traveling down her entire face to cleanly miss her jade eye; it was clearly luck that it didn't gouge out her eye and vision. It seemed to make a barely curved crescent moon, running the length of her cheek and ending where her mouth scrunched into a smile. If she had not been smiling, it would curve under her bottom lip ever-so-slightly.

The strange thing was...she was still so beautiful as she always had been. I did not care that it had ruined her face.

And now anger was boiling through me, and I knew what I looked like when it happened; that mad gleam in my eye when I have a taste for vengeful blood, that conceited sneer that appeared when I was feeling overconfident, my onyx eyes flashing dangerously.

"Who did it?" I demanded, trying to remain calm as she was; the smile was still plastered on her face as she looked me up and down, trying to figure me out, or perhaps just to see what just a few months had done to me. To my utter horror, she giggled.

"Itachi," she said lightly, resting her weight on a very curvaceous hip (quite more than I remember), her hand grasping her opposite upper arm. "After you left, it was strange, his followers came looking for you. They thought you had taken Naruto with you, you know, but we hid him and well, he was alright. He wasn't happy that he wasn't allowed to fight, though. He was about the only one who did it...it took a very long time for us to restrain him." She smiled knowingly and closed her eyes for a second, shaking her ever-pretty head. "Typical headstrong Naruto."

There was a shocked silence. Did she honestly have any idea what she was telling me? Did she understand that she was tearing my mind and my body apart with the fact that I let my own village be attacked mere days after I vowed to catch the bastard who ruined my life...and indirectly, everyone else's. Was she that stupid? I wonder. But then I saw it; that same gleam in her eye that I knew so well...because it was mine.

"And..." I swallowed; that sneaky little bitch, acting like me, dropping this information on me like a bomb all at once. "You were out there?"

"Of course I was," she replied at once, sounding slightly offended, as if the thought of not being on the forefront was ridiculous, as if any sane person would do what she did. "I am part of this village. I protect it, no matter what, and I'd protect Naruto with my life as well." She spoke passionately about Naruto, a faint note of pride in her voice that reminded me of myself so much I wanted to shake her until her neck snapped and her head lolled limply on that round shoulder. My upper lip twitched.

"And where is Naruto?" I inquired offhandedly, wondering why if she cared about him so much, why she was not with him. Oh, Sasuke, you are pathetic...don't try to act jealous, he said to himself.

Another genuine smile that Sasuke could distinctly remember made it's way across her face again, and the scar seemed to wiggle and stretch as though it were a tattoo on a muscle. "With Hinata."

I raised an eyebrow. "I never really noticed it," I stated bluntly, trying to sound as though Hinata's interest in Naruto was something anyone could have missed, but to no avail.

"Well, love can sometimes be blind. And even more, love can blind the beholder," she added, sounding knowing and worldly as though she was very wise and old and had seen much. And she had.

I cleared my dry throat and let my weight shift from foot to foot; she seemed to enjoy mimicking me, and began to do the same, shifting her weight subtly just to upset me, making sure to throw just enough hip into her actions to catch me staring, mesmerized. Where was the Sakura I used to know? The needy, pathetic one that was my most annoying fangirl, always needed someone to block that attack, the one who needed to run back and get help, who unnecessarily helped everyone up to try to feel like she belonged. The one who cried over my almost-corpse and showered me with salty tears and fought with Naruto like siblings? The thing was, she wasn't different...she was...grown up.

As I watched her watch me, coyly, waiting for me to initiate that walk she offered to take with me, I questioned her seemingly innocent intentions as she continued to wiggle her hips in a most scintillating, teasing fashion, keeping that exculpatory facade in place as she sighed and began to stretch, just for my benefit. Very grown up. God damn you...taking advantage of my-

"Are we going on that walk anytime soon, Sasuke-kun?" she inquired, dragging the suffix painfully and letting it roll off her tongue. She ceased her stretching, thankfully, and stared toward the dark forest, a minuscule worry line etching itself into her wide forehead, that I probably would have missed had I not, admittedly, been staring at her anyway. Well, at least I was focused on her face, even though that's not an excuse for me.

Love is so overrated.

The close-

The needy-

The loved.

They are the ones who hurt the most.

The ones who say the words, do the subtle things that

break your heart with a single tap

Letting pieces fall into oblivion

Lost in an abyss that your mind has created and closed for such pain.

And when you are afraid of that heartbreak

Isolation sounds like ecstasy.

"You're not afraid of it, are you?" I asked, watching her watch the majestic, ominous pines sway to and fro, as she had been moments earlier, as if dancing to the wind's song on a whim.

She fixed me with a startlingly familiar glare and did not look at me. "So many things have happened here...do you really blame me?" she asked, an accusatory tone in her chilly voice; I knew it was deserved; another reason why I cannot let myself go to her.

She folded her arms and more lines etched themselves into her forehead; I watched her mind work, watching the lines connect with others, some disappear off her pretty skin, leaving it as soft and smooth as silk. The ocean with absolutely no breeze to ripple it's beauty into waves. The wind picked up and caught her hair; her pink locks twined with each other, brushing her face and giving her the look of one who had just woken up, or perhaps one perched on a cliff, ready to throw it all away. She ran her hands over her head and tried to tame her wild mane, another hand running over her curvy backside to keep her red dress from flying up to join the wind. Although she had those same green pants on under it, she was doing this just for my benefit. Or my discomfort.

Uncomfortably, trying to be discreet, I gently tugged at my dark green collar and cleared my throat, accompanied with the mutter of, "Damn thing is so tight." She surveyed me, disbelievingly, and rolled her eyes.

"Hm...then loosen it," she stated as if she were speaking to an overemotional two year old; she turned to him and I mimicked her, wondering what she would say. Instead, she abruptly ran a hand through my hair, and I jumped and shivered under her gentle touch.

"I don't know how you get this hair to stand up..."

Damn you, woman, damn you to hell for the way you tease me. She continued to run her nails gently across my warm scalp, toying here and there with random locks of hair; I didn't know whether to punch the shit out of her and watch her fall, or just let her do it.

It was quiet...silence graced the clearing, and for once I had nothing sarcastic to say, I must have looked fairly stupid standing there.

"Let's go," she said, snapping me out of a fairly pleasant daydream; I had not even realized she had stopped touching me; she was now a few feet away, smiling widely and pointing toward the darkness. "I'd rather it not be completely pitch-black when we come out," she added, starting to prowl in alone, which was unexpected; she had never been in that forest alone, let alone gone in alone...but that had been quite a few months ago. I followed, shaking my head like a besotted dog, wanting to strangle that girl that was now jogging in ahead of me as if she were not afraid. Maybe she wasn't.

And as I watched that girl, whom I had known so long now, slow to a walk, glance over her shoulder, and purposely sway her hips just a bit more than usual, I didn't know whether to kill her or kiss her. But I could not let myself fall prey and attempt the latter...not now, not ever.

She had to strike first.

She's no girl anymore.

Stupidly, love-struck, blindly, I followed, the idiot that I am.


All is quiet.

Earlier acquaintances eagerly await responses

that will not come.

He is not here for attention

Nor for fun

Only for himself, only for the answers

That Cherry Blossom will slowly pull

one by one

Out of the pitch-black tomb that is his heart.

But he must take his turn first.

"Oh Kakashi Sennnnsei!" a loud voice yelled, announcing his triumphant return; Hinata hurried to the door to pull off her friend's burden, which was...predictably, Ramen.

"Let me take that," she said quietly, relieving her friend of the food burden and walking to the table, where Hatake Kakashi sat, that ever-interesting book open and in his hand; his other hand was drumming it's fingers on the tabletop.

Naruto settled himself into a chair, and, waving away simple manners, dug in. Hinata shook her head gently, her pupil-less eyes surveying him with great amusement. Kakashi surveyed him over the top of his book as well, rolling his one visible eye and regrettably shutting the book.

"I always remind you, I'm not your sensei anymore," Kakashi said loudly over the constant sounds of Naruto eating; he tended to focus on food and nothing else.

"Why did it take so long, Naruto?" Hinata quietly asked, pressing her fingertips together, a tiny smile on her face as Naruto grinned, swept the food from his face off with the back of his hand, and leaned back in his chair, satisfied for the time being.

"Well, I saw a lot of people out today," he said, putting his feet up on the table, which earned him a reproving glare from Hinata. He set them back on the floor and continued. "I met Sakura on the way, and talked to her for a bit. She's been acting strange lately ever since Sasuke came back-"

"Sasuke came back?" Hinata interrupted, her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "I have not seen him around."

"I did today...after I spoke with Sakura, I invited her to eat with us, but she seemed sort of distant and stuff, and then she said she was taking a walk. And then not five minutes later, he came prowling down the street in his dark cloak all moody, as usual."

Hinata thought for a moment, still frowning. "And he has not spoken to anyone since being home?"

Kakashi heaved a heavy sigh, causing both ninja to look around at him.

"What?" Naruto asked, shoving the remnants of what had been lunch out of the way so he could study his expression.

"He's going through something right now...I can tell...he's not really here, Naruto. Not in his mind. He's still trying to make sense of his life," Kakashi stated, speaking slowly, choosing words carefully.

"I feel sorta bad, believe it," Naruto began, leaning back in his chair, his feet propped up on the table once again. "I mean, the whole killing his brother thing, that's gotta take a toll on your nerves. Or sanity. And Sakura-"

"Has not been the same since he left," Hinata interrupted, quietly. It did not take much for her peaceful tone to distract and deter attention away from even the loudest voice. "But she is not okay now that he is back, either. They should talk," she stated bluntly, putting her elbows on the table, the frown still on her face.

"But I think we should let them do it on their own terms," Kakashi warned, as Naruto opened his mouth, do doubt for a grand master plan he had concocted in his mind while simply sitting there. "It won't be long before Sasuke decides to come back to reality."

"How do you know," Naruto asked, making a face. "Maybe he'll go back to where he was born."The chair creaked as he leaned backward farther and farther.

"There's nothing there anymore," Hinata reminded quietly, watching the chair legs wobble underneath Naruto's weight. Truth be told, none of the young ninja were very young anymore. "There is only one thing he wants, and I have the feeling he will find the answers soon."

"What does he want?" Naruto immediately asked, while Kakashi smiled at the scene unfolding in front of him. He chuckled.

"You will know," Hinata told him, leaving it at that as she pushed her chair out and walked toward the kitchen; Naruto hung his head over the back of the chair and laughed, his eyes wide and vibrant with a profound cerulean hue.

"But I want to know! Besides, I want to see how much stronger he-"

A loud crash resounded through the kitchen; Hinata appeared in the doorway of the kitchen, eyes wide and horrified; as she saw Naruto lying on the floor, face screwed up in pain and embarrassment, she stifled a giggle and walked back into the kitchen, while Kakashi looked around the table and smiled.

"Having manners pays off," he said, and returned to his book once again.


A maze.

A million ways of terror

In a forest of all of pine

Where light does not give hope to thee

In this forsaken place

of fear.

And so begins the battle

of wills.

Neither is an easy opponent

neither will back down

and one will have to break eventually

as the tougher questions begin.

My eyes were barely adjusting to the dimness as we walked through the labyrinth of silent trees, where no animal stirred, no leaf twitched, no light penetrated. I did not dare voice what I was thinking; did she know where we were going?

I was so angry at myself; I should have paid more attention to my surroundings as we traveled deeper into the unknown; she always felt the need to be a few steps ahead of me, which kept me in perfect line. Perfect line, I might say, directly behind her.

"So," Sakura began, slowing down to walk next to me. The excitement in her before...I did not see it anymore. A serious demeanor that I do not remember her ever possessing was showing through; her eyes were maddeningly wide with excitement; I sure remember that. Back then it was usually the look reserved for me, when I pulled off some amazing stunt that saved the entire team. Now she was reserving it just to tease and taunt me.

"You finally did it," she whispered, turning her head away to stare into the nothingness in front of her. We simply walked in the silence, the darkness, and I could barely see; all I knew for sure was that her presence was near, and that was good enough for me.

"I'm glad, Sasuke, really, I am," she spoke again, still in a voice barely above a whisper, and she did sound sincerely glad that his problems were finally coming to a close.

"Hn," I replied, acknowledging her words, but that was all I said. I did not turn to look at her.

Sasuke Uchiha, you sound about as intellectual as a gorilla. 'Hn'. Gonna have a panic attack if you so much as speak? I hate myself.

"What are you going to do now?" she inquired, and although her words were meant as a simple question, there was a tone behind them, a haughty, impatient tone that gave off a vibe of annoyance. I looked at her, but she continued to stare straight ahead; after another few seconds of that, she glanced at me quickly, then stopped walking.

"What are you going to do now?" she repeated, finally turning to me, and I did the same. Onyx and Jade shot daggers at each other in spite; she wanted me to say it, and I was not going to give her that benefit. Nothing is going to change this time...if she wants to voice it, that was fine with me. But she showed no signs of relenting or softening; I expected her round eyes to soften, her adorable worry lines to magically appear on her wide forehead that I have teased her about since we were mere children, her to wrap her arms around me and make me feel...like I meant something to someone.

But she did not do any of those things. She simply stood there, waiting for my answer. And I began to panic.

True, I had been gone for months...but the reason I left was for her...I wanted her to be okay without me, not need me to hide behind, but yet stay the innocent girl she was. I brought my past, my tragic life upon these people, and I wish I had never strayed across their paths and interfered with the life Fate chose for them. But I had, and there was no way to change that.

I want to tell you so badly.

"I guess...I could stay around here for a while," I began casually, scratching the back of my neck again; here I am, getting hot under the collar again, and all she is doing is staring at me. God, how wrong is this? This is supposed to be the other way around. I could not stop the blush this time...it crept up my face, and she narrowed her eyes. She knew I flat-out lying, and for the first time, I was as vulnerable as an open book.

Vulnerable.

Like a newborn animal with no instinct

left to fend for itself,

reborn into the world of give and take.

She is relentless now

never again will she back down from you.

Make your move, Mr. Expressionless,

she will not wait forever for you

to swallow your pride.

She pressed her cool palm to my burning cheek; I jumped again under her touch as her gentle fingers burned against my face. This was so wrong, so horribly wrong, and whatever was happening to me because of her, it was frightening. So fucked up...so wrong...stop.

"Are you alright, Sasuke-kun?" she inquired, her fingers, the softest material I have ever felt, traveled over my forehead, past my temple, down my cheek-

"I'm fine," I said shortly, swallowing; I cleared my throat and jerked away to keep up appearances. "I'm fine," I repeated; she surveyed me with narrowed eyes, so much like mine, again, and I snapped.

"What the hell is your problem, Sakura?" I asked, loudly, standing over her and yelling as if she were a child who had done something wrong; I tried to intimidate, and I would like to say it worked. I was quite a few inches taller than her now, and I looked down at her as I always had, trying to make her quake under my furious stare, which, before I had been gone, was almost pathetically easy. She stared up at me, her face utterly blank for moments on end. But then that damned scar twitched; the corners of her mouth quickly turned up and kept on going, right into a wide smile, and then in seconds, Sakura was laughing her head off as if she were completely drunk.

"What the hell is your problem, Uchiha?" she retorted, spitting out my last name with utter contempt and stepping toward me. Normally, if someone, even a female, had done that to me, I would not have moved at all, they could walk into me for all I cared. Without thinking, I stepped back, for her teeth seemed to be very pointed, and her lips twisted into a devilish grin, her eyes sparkling with malice. "It's quite simple, Sasuke, I am only returning the favor."

I stepped back again, eyes narrowed in anger, and gave a start as I felt my back press up against a large tree trunk. Fuck.

"I learned quite a few things while you were gone, Sasuke, okay? I have gotten stronger, yes, but I have not just grown physically,". She crossed her arms over her chest (which, even though I am in quite a situation, I could not help notice) and made sure to sway those hips (those goddamned mesmerizing hips!), as she came closer, with a strange gleam in her eye as if she were an animal, closing in for the kill. "But mentally and emotionally as well. I'm sorry...about your life. I have always felt sympathy for you, but you never wanted to take that. You have one last chance to take it, one chance to tell me that-"

She broke off and swallowed; she put her face down and let her bangs hide her expression, which he knew was screwed up in sadness, trying not to show that she still was a bit nicer than she would have you think.

"You...do...care." She barely concealed a sniffle as she spoke her last words, and blinked away barely-there tears as she raised her face to look him in the eye once more. And now she was pulling the guilt act as she tucked her head under my chin, which remained level, and was trying to hard to hide those sobs.

Heh. Like I would fall for that; she must think I'm an idiot.

"Stop," I said, taking her by the shoulders and simply pushing her away; this was not going to work on me. "Don't even try to do that...with tears...you're so fake."

"Don't make me have to control you again," she warned, still blinking away tears, but a determined expression gracing her face; she would do it, and her tears were far from fake. "I saw you, Sasuke. I was all over you...making you feel like someone cared...and you liked it," she said, her voice lowering to a dangerous hiss. I swallowed again, trying to make it discreet; she was finally realizing that I was not always to be so stoic.

She tucked her head under my chin again, and I recoiled, frantically reaching back; air, nothingness, air, the tree trunk was the only thing behind me.

Ohhh fuck.

"Please, Sasuke?" she asked innocently; her full lips just barely brushed the nape of my neck, sending shivers down my spine and my mind to completely blank out. Oh god...I have to make her stop...

But- his conscious interrupted. Isn't this what you wanted? She's groveling, she's making the move, leaving you to interpret it as you wish. This is your chance...everything will fall into place for you, and you can admit to yourself that you do love her. It's perfect. Just like a fairytale.

I realized my mind was right. It was finally going to happen...I could let her in...it was easier than I had hoped...I could remain stoic as ever and she would do the work. Perfect.

"Sasuke...may I say something?" she asked quietly, her arms wrapping around my waist. This was it. I wished she'd take the plunge and just do it; I could not hide the fact that my heart was beating wildly out of control, I was numb with that want, that need, that desire for her touch...do it...

One set of fingers had removed themselves from behind my back...they were roaming...I was saying something...speaking muffled words and sweet nothings into the top of her head and I don't remember what they were at all...one of her fingers accidentally poked a soft spot on my chest. I jerked ever-so-slightly...one of my very few weak spots, and damn, the woman had found it...but...that didn't matter.

"Sasuke," she breathed, and all I uttered was a content, "Hn...", almost a low growl of a lion, after it has finished eating and is sated.

Control.

Leaving torn and broken relationships in it's wake,

a struggle of power.

One must make the first move,

and it will not be her this time.

Cry on her shoulder and beg

the shoe is on the other, the daintier foot of the two

and she is you.

And pain erupted in the pit of my stomach; reality was blurring into disconnected, fuzzy pictures while my knees hit the soft ground in resignation. Holding my lower stomach, I keeled over, feeling my meager breakfast swirl back through the tubes from which it originally came, taking it's journey backwards; bile and food expelled from my lips and stained the ground with a strange slapping sound, as if someone had literally slapped my face in anger.

This act was done in anger. Eyes watering, I tried to quell my now-sensitive gag reflex by swallowing; saliva rose to the occasion magnificently, dripping from my dirty lips and onto the marshy forest floor.

"How does it feel?" Sakura asked sweetly, as though I was at her mercy, vomiting my stomach contents onto the godforsaken ground, resigned to her punch. "Guess I hit you in just the right spot," she continued, a hint of a facetious laugh in her voice.

I looked up at her, stunned; her voice was disguising her utter anger toward me, I could tell, for her face was contorted into a look of fury and hatred toward me. And it was painful to see from my normally sweet and innocent Sakura.

My Sakura...

"People up and leave you without a goodbye. They insult you and kick you when you're already down, lie and would never, ever, care if you were hurt. How–does–it–feel?" she repeated, swinging her foot into that same sensitive spot, but not releasing force, so it merely was a tight, painfully quick jab in my already sore stomach. Either way, I looked up again, shocked. There was one way out...damn her for carving deep wounds into my normally untouched pride. I muttered quietly, "It hurts."

She stared down at me, her mind working frantically as she tried to see through my words. "Say it again."

"It...hurts..." I repeated, my voice cracking out of utter shame and the throbbing pain as my intestines and internal organs slowly moved back to their original spots; hopefully they knew where to go.

A silence graced the clearing, and Sakura continued to stand over me, seeming indifferent; she rested her weight on one hip again, and studied me as if I were a mildly interesting television program that she normally watched. She sniffled.

"You have one day, Sasuke. One day. I want to see you here, tomorrow, around the same time. You have one chance."

She turned away, her long pink locks dancing around her head in the breeze; her eyes were completely clouded over, as though she were reliving painful memories, those ones that you had numerous times and never told a soul.

"I've done my part...and waited for you. Now...it is your turn to wait for me."

She walks heavily with sorrow

Is it wrong?

An eye for an eye sort of thing.

True to her word, she will return, hopefully to hear him confess.

Cherry Blossom cries in sympathy once again.

Mr. Expressionless has a job that he shall fulfill

and a long walk home

alone.


On his trudging way he goes

the rain disguising any sign of weakness

He walks.

But in that dismal scene of rejection

lies another

an old friend.

"Sasuke!"

Through my utter dejection and shame–vomit stained the front of my high-collared jacket–I complied to turn around, not really thinking about how it could or would be. I was slightly surprised to see NarutoUzimaki staring at me on an even level, about two feet away in the rain; it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that he had most certainly grown in every way.

Everything is so different...

"Ah," I began, assuming a superior air immediately and pushing locks of sopping hair out of my face. I cleared my throat and continued, "Naruto."

"Where have you been for the past few weeks?" he asked. Leave it to Naruto to not beat around the bush.

I was silent for a second. I was sure he knew, everyone knew that I had been here, but avoiding everybody since. "Around," I replied curtly, vaguely wondering why everything that came out of my mouth sounded so rude, as if I really were superior to everyone here. I really was not up to speaking to anyone...not after having my heart ripped out and stomped on...despite the fact that I had done that to her so many times; are you happy Sakura, I learned something today. This conversation had to be short and sweet.

"You know, Sasuke...it's not really as hard as ya think," Naruto started, looking his rival in the eye; he was exactly the same height as me.

Immediately, I began to heat up again; every mention of that woman, direct or not, triggered my mind to remember every word I had exchanged with her over the past 5 years...spinning, overlapping each other and making no sense to me whatsoever, but it was enough to make me feel guilty and...embarrassed.

"What are you talking about, Naruto?" I snapped, my harsh accent on his name slicing through the chilly air like a knife, which seemed to happen when I was greatly annoyed.

"I knew you weren't going to admit anything to me, so all I'm gonna say is...well...you have this strange idea that you're going to lose your pride by doing this, and you're not. Once you do it...it's over...and no one's going to think any less of ya. In fact, they'll be happy! And so will Sakura."

I simply stared...so he knew everything too...my god, was my whole screwed up almost-there relationship with that woman public knowledge?

"You have to make the first move," Naruto finished in an unnaturally quiet voice, and, with a last toothy grin that I remember so well, he turned and began to hurry away in the rain...in seconds, he was gone.

And I was alone again.

No different than any other day of my life...


The hours pass

And not an idea erupts from his pretty head

A sleepless night

for both.

The day has come and gone

and his will is steadfast

as is hers.

Traveling again through the pines

to solve a lost cause.

If only a few more minutes of ecstasy

from her

to him.

Only three words separate ecstasy

from lustful want and desire.

Only three words

prove the lust is not

but love.

Pride is everything to him:

Now...

choke–

it–

down.

The trip back was hardly easier than it had been the night before: I could not shake off people as I prowled through the streets like an angry overlord, collar turned up and my onyx orbs catching the glow of streetlights and flashing dangerously; once again, I was not to be crossed. The first time she had taken me in, and now I had to rely one what I remember in my subconscious while we walked...needless to say, I do not remember much, considering I had much on my mind and I was concentrating on her...

I surveyed the outskirts of the woods with a slightly apprehensive look as I contemplated the options; I could blindly stumble through the brush, not having a clue where I was going, or I could sit and wait...or I could not go.

Mentally, I slapped myself, hard; I could almost imagine Sakura taking her gentle hand and slender fingers to my skin; I quelled a shudder and absentmindedly ran my fingers under my shirt and over that tender bruise she had left me as a reminder. In spite of myself, I smiled at the thought of her face, laughing at my misfortune as I had done to her so many times. I'll get her back...just you wait, Sakura Haruno.

"I knew you wouldn't be able to find the way," a gentle, feminine voice said quietly. My eyes darted in every direction, but the speaker was not visible.

"You want help?" she continued; she was straight in front of me, hidden in the shadows cast by the towering pines and the thick canopy.

"Hn," I replied, my cop-out reply.

"Follow my voice," she said, and I did not move; I closed my eyes and listened, my sense of sound sharpening as I did. Still blind, I jogged forward, hands slightly out so I could prevent myself from smashing my face on any tree trunks.

For some time I followed; although I could have opened my eyes and let them adjust to the dim light, I did not. I would win this, as I won everything, and the prize would be seeing her beautiful self at the destination.

I hurried on.

The trees became less dense...a scintillating scene reached my nostrils, and in the back of my mind (for it took quite a bit of concentration to feel around in the dark woods, completely blind)...it reminded me of some sort of flower, but I could not put my finger on it...

My slightly lack of concentration punished me as I tripped over a tree root that had clearly been growing out of the ground and just waiting to trip someone.

"Damn it," I muttered and finally opened my eyes to the most beautiful scene I had ever seen. And considering I was not keen on the color pink, well, it was still amazing.

Heaven had fallen and landed in this exact clearing: Time seemed to freeze in such a gorgeous way as tiny, soft pink buds drifted lazily down from the towering trees, which were not pines; nestled amid the majestic, intimidating pines was a group of cherry blossom trees. Where pine ended and blossoms began; it was so sudden, you would think there was an invisible wall to separate the two. The canopy above was a tangle of intertwined branches, their ends invisible for the mere fact that ends of them were covered in blossoms. There was no ground, only a thick layer of pink cherry blossoms that covered roots and grass and everything in between right up to the trunks, which were towering and seemed to emanate their own, strangely auspicious glow. It was pink as far as my dark eyes could see. It has an atmosphere of calm and complete peace, and a strange melody was originating from nowhere.

I heard a soft hum and gave a start; it sounded so close, but no one was there with me enjoying the beautiful clearing.

"S-Sakura?" I said loudly, taking a step forward; the thick layer of cherry blossoms came well past my shin...nearly my knee. How long had the blossoms been falling off the trees?

"Find me," was my only reply, her gentle voice blending perfectly with the atmosphere and that melody that haunted and taunted me.

Hesitantly I stepped, letting my sandaled foot sink through the blossoms again; the petals tickled my feet and I kicked a few aside, slightly frustrated.

This 'hide-and-seek' shit is going to cease.

She giggled again, trying to give me a clue; it sounded so close, why couldn't I find her?

And then I saw it; wide jade eyes staring through a curtain of pink blossoms...she was lying in wait under her camouflage, and although her smile was not visible, her eyes held excitement. I quickly averted my eyes so she did not know I had seen through her clever disguise; instead, I watched out of the corner of my eye, her eyes follow my path as I slowly circled around her spot, coming closer just a little bit each time. Eventually, I ended up with my back to her, and in the silence I could nearly hear her tense, ready.

Too bad I was quicker. I whirled around and before I thought about a decent plan of attack, I simply threw my body on top of her; she let out a cry of surprise and shook the cherry blossoms off her head and tried in vain to twist her neck around so she could see me as I laid on her back, muffling my laughs of success into the back of her head.

"Got you," he said breathlessly, propping himself up on his elbows on her shoulder blades and smirking. She made a noise of disgust and wiggled beneath me, trying to free herself from my weight, but that wasn't going to happen anytime soon, I knew. She blanched.

"Get off my hair!" she screeched out of annoyance and pain; she had dropped her sultry demeanor and was now furious. "Watch where you stick those bony elbows," she added, still writhing and twisting beneath me, and all it did was make me laugh louder and purposely jam my elbows into her upper back; she let out a cry of frustration and strained to reach her weapons pocket, where her trusty kunai most certainly resided. I pinned her forearm into the endless cherry blossoms and put my mouth to her ear.

"Someone is stuck," I mocked, lips brushing against her ear, and I watched the back of her neck turn a slight shade of pink; watching her become angry and losing her edge was amusing, not to mention adorable.

She wriggled beneath me, trying to raise her back end up to her knees, pressing her back end into me, attempting to buck me off with those strong, curvaceous hips that I was now coming to love; she knocked the wind out of me as she slammed herself back into me, letting out a frustrated groan when I didn't fly off her back completely, and left my heart pounding and my lower stomach throbbing again.

"Get off," she snapped, still twisting and flopping like a dying fish on a pier. "Now."

"Hn," I murmured; without thinking, I pressed my lips to the back of ear. She carried the faint scent of cherry blossoms. "Nah."

Abruptly, I felt my face sink into utter rapture as those cherry blossoms tickled my face again; her weight was not under me any more, and I pushed myself up onto my knees and looked around. Nowhere.

I heard her land on the ground some few feet away, sputtering and groaning. She sat up and did not notice me, but winced as she sat up and put her head on her knees. "Never could get that whole reappearing thing right."

"Oh, hell no!" I burst out, jumping to my feet. "You can't do that!"

The moment of truth draws nearer

as they battle once again–

of wills

of physical strength

against the things they want to do

to each other

with each other.

Always.

Each wants to claim the other

In this struggle of power

And when pride is at stake...

Emotion–

is–

torn.

"Say it," she whispered, her lips tantalizingly brushing mine; enough touch to keep my heart pounding wildly, among other things, but not nearly enough to satisfy me. I was slightly offended.

"You," I immediately replied, husky and low, placing my forehead against hers to keep my mouth from straying away; no way was I going to give up this...she would goddamn give in before me. She let out a tiny whine of annoyance and poked the bruise she had left me the day before; I couldn't conceal a wince.

"No..." she hissed, "I've done my part, waiting for you to finish what you started...now it's your turn, Sasuke...give it up...you and your fucking pride-"

"Fuck you," I breathed, snapping like a feisty wild lion, intending to show just what it was made of, even if bluffing, and if that was what it took, I would. I wound my fingers through the fine material that made her shirt, and squeezed, tight. "I'll wait 'til you crack, Sakura. I'll wait."

With that, I shoved her off me ruthlessly and sat up, hands on my knees, and all that excitement, that lust that I had been enjoying faded and died; immediately I wished it back, but this was a matter of will, and I was not going to let her last over me.

She stared at me, disbelievingly, propping herself up on her knees and picking up a round, full blown cherry blossom. Milky white and startlingly vibrant, I could not keep my eyes off it, and she watched in amusement as my gaze followed that beautiful piece of nature.Struck with a sudden inspiration, she twirled it in her fingers and taunted me with it for a few more seconds, then swiftly stuck the stem into her front pocket, which of course was sewn into the material that covered her breast. She smirked evilly, then pursed her lips into a fake pout and waited, watching me clench my fists in anger, determined not to show any emotion.

You fucking tease...

"Isn't it pretty?" she said coyly, gently fingering the petals. Her voice was light and innocent, anyone could be fooled into thinking she was just enjoying the world and all it had.

Everyone except me. I wasn't that stupid. Not anymore.

Kill me...

"You know, it is so strange to see cherry blossoms in bloom this time of year...it's almost like a miracle, isn't it?"

Shut up woman...shut that mouth...

"I wonder why-HOI!"

I didn't give her a chance to finish as I leapt at her, blood in my eye and the hatred that had been boiling just beneath the surface bubbled over; I wanted that coy, sultry smile off her face and in the dirt, stained by blood, gone, her teeth landing with a sickening 'plink' on the ground, her pouting lips to swell and obscure her face, anything to hurt her.

But I couldn't do it, even though the frightened look on her face reflected my actions; enraged, acting like an animal more than human. I had her in my grasp as I pinned her to the ground by her shoulders with my shaking knuckles, and her round jade eyes stared up at me, confused. I was not hurting her. Instead, I gently took the blossom from her front pocket–she smiled ever so slightly as my shaking fingers just barely brushed the red material covering her breast–and rolled off her, panting, the prize in my clenched fist; only the petals protruded from their prison.

Our gazes locked on once more, and her face seemed to be massacred with a sledgehammer in a matter of seconds as I took my other hand and pulled the blossom apart. Time froze in that clearing of heaven, and an invisible force reverberated from the heart of that flower that I had torn apart.

As each tiny piece of heaven fell, worry lines were appearing on her forehead once again, then disappearing so quickly. For a startling moment, I saw a gleam of hatred in her eye and I expected her to lash out and try to injure any part of me she could reach, but then she simply slumped, the little fight she possessed gone, and her face crumpled.

It was going wrong. I had achieved a goal in my mind, sure; not to fall apart from her coy, flirtatious act. But this time, when I saw a single tear land on her white, clenched fist, a sinking feeling in my heart told me it was not fake this time. How I did I know; I did not have proof, really, but I knew.

It felt like tearing a butterfly apart by the wings and watching it die. Something that had taken so long to grow, so long to blossom and be noticed, and in seconds I had killed with just the right action; and this action was what had killed the will of the blossom slumped barely a foot away, hugging herself and heaving. In spite of the pangs of sympathy beating on my pride, I smirked. I'd outlasted her.

But that feeling did not bring me any happiness, any ecstasy, any better feeling than utter guilt and embarrassment. I felt like a younger brother who had screamed at my older sister to never 'play' with me again, go off to college and never return or there would be hell to pay. And she ran off crying, not telling our parents what happened, not telling anyone. Everyone said that he's young and you shouldn't worry about it, but she can't help it. She feels like she failed; she failed as a supportive sister, she failed as a friend. She was worthless.

But she wasn't worthless...not to me...I was the worthless one, my mission in life was done, and she had her whole existence ahead of her to find the better things in life. Who was I to crush her spirit and stop her from having that?

And then, I wanted to tell her. I couldn't go through life anymore sitting around, waiting for her to give herself up to me. I wanted to scream it from every rooftop like a madman, I wanted to run through the streets with a banner and proclaim it, I wanted to show her how much I cared, no matter how my actions said otherwise.

Fuck. Pride.

"Sakura?" I said quietly, walking toward her on my knees; she did not look up or acknowledge me, but continued to sniffle, her bangs covering her face and her battle wound.

I repeated her name and she looked up, blinking away tears threatening to tumble over her eyelids, hatred etched into every line of her gorgeous face.

"Fuck you," she spat, not moving. She jerked away from the comforting hand I was prepared to lay on her shoulder and sat up on her knees too, inches from my face. "Is that really what you think of me, Sasuke Uchiha? Nothing? Would you rip me apart too, like some common flower?" When I did not reply–instead I hung my head slightly–I recoiled as her hand whistled in the air and I felt her stinging slap against my cheek. As I felt the blood rush to the point of impact, I shook the hair out of my eyes and faced her.

"You won, asshole," she whispered viciously, forming each word with such contempt, such anger. "You have your stupid pride, and that's all you have left for you."

"Wait!" I said, as she put up a knee to stand up and walk away from me for the last time. "I-"

"Stuff it," she replied, standing up. "You won. You got what you wanted. Bested me and thrown it back in my face like you have for years."

"Get back here!" I snapped, standing up and following at a quickened pace as she began to walk away. I can't let you do this Sakura...I made a mistake...

"Don't you lay another finger on me," she warned, kunai in hand and pointed at my heart, as if she planned to rip it in two. "I swear I'll wipe the forest floor with your blood."

Ouch.

"Then I'll take that risk," I muttered, lunging for the back of her shirt; miraculously, I had managed to grab it and I pulled her, a bit harder than necessary, down to the ground. I wasn't letting her go this time.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" she demanded, as I grasped the front of her shirt once again and dragged her closer; I could see remnants of shed tears clinging to her long eyelashes; her eyes were gleaming with a furious desire to put a knife through me, and her hatred only made me want her more.

"Something...I should have done...earlier," I stuttered, swallowing, working up the courage for what I was about to do.

"Hm, and what would that-"

And I cut off her remark off by capturing her lips in a kiss.

Time freezes

as two come together

in one emotion

on one plateau.

Cherry petals fall like autumn leaves

tumbling through the air to rest in

locks of ebony and pink.

A connection like no other.

Pride was the last thing on my mind now

Pure and unrefined ecstasy

at it's best.

She was not mine,

I was hers.

After many long, trying moments I pulled away. Never had I been so embarrassed, so full of joy, so aroused; I never remembered wanting anything more than to simply stay that way forever, and nothing else mattered to me now.

Sakura was wiping the tears off with the back of her hand, a blazing look on her face and her eyes rounder than a deers' that had been caught in blinding headlights.

"That's...all...I wanted," she choked out.

And with a smirk, she flew at me, her lips crashing against mine as she pushed me to the ground.

I would like to say that it was a very sweet, sensitive, passionate sort of thing, what happened, but I'd be lying. Well, certainly not about the passionate part, but the sweet and sensitive...well...nothing that happened was considered sensitive; what with her tongue begging for entrance past my lips (and it didn't take long for me to oblige) and me, nibbling on her neck as if she were a particularly tasty appetizer. I didn't know what to expect, but...hell...I wouldn't ask for anything less from her.

She shivered as I pressed my lips to a particularly sensitive spot behind her ear, and she made a strange sound into my chiseled chest; somewhat a whine, a whimper, but I knew it was not hurting her.

The strange thing was...I hate to admit it...but we were fighting for control again. Most of the time her weight wasn't enough to keep me down, but once in a while she found the strength to leave me flat on my back.

Eventually, we had to pull apart, due to the fact that neither of us were receiving the necessary air; her head was turned to the side as I pressed my nose into the little spot behind her ear; she smiled slightly and, taking a few deep breaths, asked, "Guess what?"

I shifted into a more comfortable position; I slid off her a bit to stop constricting her lungs and untangled my legs from hers. "What?" I asked, my eyes closed.

"I won."

I opened one eye to look at her, and her smile, though tired, was triumphant.

I sighed.

"Yeah...I know," I replied, making a face as though I had swallowed a lemon whole; it made her giggle softly.

"It wasn't so bad, was it?" she teased, her last words muffled, since she pressed her face into the hollow of my neck and let out a breath.

A silence graced the clearing before I spoke, and I had never been so happy to hear it. I harrumphed and the stoic demeanor was rushing back through my veins before I could say 'Wait.' But I broke it-

"I guess not."


Returned to reality

in style, he is.

Proclamation isn't needed now

Actions speak louder than words.

A new chapter, a new act

A deviation from the set script

is born.

"It's about time!" Naruto yelled obnoxiously, leaping from Hinata's side to greet his former teammates; Sakura poked her head out from under the umbrella and smiled widely, stepping onto the doormat before Sasuke, who merely grunted and put out a hand to imply that she go in first. His usual expression set, he stepped through the door, closed the umbrella, and shook his hair out, making sure it still stuck up in the back before surveying the room.

Sakura hugged Naruto tightly, who gave Sasuke a thumbs-up and an obnoxious grin behind her back. His cold gaze made Naruto falter.

"Hello, Hinata," Sakura said, and Hinata smiled in acknowledgment; she locked eyes with Sasuke, who merely gave a nod, and that was all that was needed.

"Well, Sasuke," Kakashi greeted, waving a gloved hand toward the stoic Uchiha, who merely narrowed his eyes.

And as they looked at each other, words were not spoken.

"Keep your mouth shut, old man," thought Sasuke. A fairly rude comment, perhaps, but it was a pleasant enough greeting for Kakashi, who smiled and motioned for the ninja to seat themselves.

Everyone stared around the room at eachother...rain lashed at the windows and they sat in silence...waiting.

"So," Naruto started, leaning forward; Hinata absentmindedly ruffled his blonde locks. "You gonna stay?"

Sasuke did not answer right away; he was completely expressionless. A quick glance at Sakura-

"Hmph, I guess. As long as I don't end up boarding too close to you," he said, and Sakura and Hinata giggled, while Naruto leaned back and closed his eyes, indifferent.

"Heh, your loss, believe it," he replied.

The girls burst out into laughter, the two rivals smirked at each other, and Kakashi simply sighed and brought out his book again, but allowed one or two fatherly chuckles.

"Staying with Sakura?" Kakashi inquired in a fairly innocent voice; Sasuke stiffened, Hinata blushed for the both of them, and Naruto leaned forward, his eyes squinted. Sasuke threw a most hateful glare at Kakashi.

I hate you so much.

"You old pervert," Sasuke muttered, smirking in his conceited way and shaking his head. "We're not going to be the illustration of your books, Kakashi. I'll make sure to contain myself."

This earned giggles all around, Hinata still blushing, and Naruto looking suspiciously from Sakura to his rival.

"Huh," was all he said, and leaned back into the couch and Hinata gently, cautiously, set her head on his shoulder. "That's something."

Sasuke looked at Sakura; he did not need to hold her hand every step of the way. She smiled to his stoic expression, and only she noticed his eyebrows soften ever so softly.

Words were exchanged between without ever moving lips-

I love you.

And I won.

Intertwined and deep within

are feelings that are only shared with one other

I overcame

I won.

The struggle for control will always continue

but we will fight for it together

the never-ending battle will rage

for as long as I am with you.

I was broken.

I am whole.

I was torn

Now I am stitched together.

I was done

Now I have only begun.


Wow...that was SO long...yep...and that's it. Read and review, if you'd be so kind. I'm considering a sequel...I'm open tosuggestions.